Thursday, April 19, 2007

The First Lady at Cabinet Meetings?

Rudy Giuliani was backpedalling about his comment that he would let his wife attend Cabinet meetings. Many Americans feel uncomfortable about the unelected First Lady at these meetings.

Scott Kaufman debates the background of this thorny issue - the First Lady's place. The Carter administration recieved criticism because Rosalynn Carter attended (although didn't participate) in Cabinet meetings. Similar criticisms were lodged against the Clinton adminstration:
Over 60 percent [of the American public] believed Mrs. Clinton had the “knowledge and personal characteristics” to act as one of his advisers. Yet seven out of ten respondents wanted her to assume a traditional role, and six of ten rejected the idea of her taking up official duties in the White House. When President Clinton appointed Hillary as head of a commission to make recommendations to reform the nation’s health care system – in other words, a body that would help make policy – most Americans were outraged. After the Republican-controlled Congress killed the proposed reforms, and, even more important, after Mrs. Clinton adopted a new hairdo and assumed more traditional functions in her husband’s administration, her standing in the eyes of Americans improved.

Prof. Kaufman ends his piece by wondering what would happen if the US does elect a woman President? Would the American public have the same aversion to her husband (who would then be the unelected official) taking a role in public policy? What if it was Hillary Clinton whose husband has governmental experience? Should that make a difference?

What is the place of the First Lady? The First Lady traditionally takes on a "cause" that she uses her influence to help - such as Laura Bush and literacy, but what else can she do? Let's hear your opinion - certainly everyone else is talking!

As a note, I found a blog called America's Next First Lady if you are interested in the First Lady race for 2008. I personally am avoiding the 2008 election at the moment - way too early for me to care!

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